September 15, 2006

It's The War, Cupid!


Don’t worry.  I have no interest in Condi’s private life — and, more importantly, no desire to get lost in the distraction.  However, there are some interesting political dynamics that arise from this picture, and the romance rumors flying around regarding Rice and Canada’s Foreign Minister Peter MacKay.

The NYT fluff piece playing up the gossip referred to Ms. Rice’s press contingent as “bored.”  If that’s the case, in the midst of a (so called) war and heading into mid-term elections, it doesn’t speak well for the Administration.  Whether Ms. Rice is attracted or the press is distracted, the results are still the same:  The White House is having a terrible time trying to control the message.

Beyond every day message management, however, there is something much more deviant (for the White House) about this image.  Given Bush’s determination to present an ever vigilant, “we’re at war” disposition (an obvious role requirement among his political generals), this depiction of Rice is exceptionally out of character.

Now, if we were in the middle of WWII (meaning America was really at war), such a photo would be more understandable.  People fall in love during wars.  (Maybe more so, in fact.)  But because the Bush war is one of contrivance, this photo can’t help but have a dissonant (even “dissident”) effect.

If Condi really does have a thing for Mackay, it could be quite interesting to see the effect of even a small diet of mooning.  “War On Terror”-wise, the question that arises is: what kind of conviction can you wring out of political consumers when one of your main cheerleaders starts showing up without her war mask?  The impression is not only disconcerting, it plays into a whole different cultural meme — one drawing a thin trip wire across the path of the G.I. George show.

The Condi – Mackay rumors didn’t circulate for more than a day before the opposition “got it.”  Scanning the demonstrators at Rice’s latest appearance, a familiar mantra broke to the surface.  In a cupid-like reinterpretation of “Cut And Run,” the phrase “Condi: Make Love, Not War!” started to bloom on the protest signs.

(image: Paul Darrow/Reuters. Nova Scotia. September 12, 2006.  Via YahooNews)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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